From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/the-way-greeks-live-now.html?_r=1
By RUSSELL SHORTO
Published: February 13, 2012
In a little brick-walled taverna in Athens, over a lunch of Cretan salad and stuffed grape leaves, a Greek journalist named Aris Hadjigeorgiou was holding forth one day in late November about the calamitous state of his city and country as only a veteran metropolitan reporter could. He explicated the insidious ways in which the upper echelons of Greek media were intertwined with the political structure, which prevented reporting of financial mismanagement and also clouded any hope for resolving the crisis. And he noted little things, like the leaflets on car windshields advertising moving companies: literal signs of the way the economic crisis was affecting Athens, as people angled for escape routes, either abroad or to the countryside. And how the mayor’s office was at that moment considering a quaint but cockeyed approach for the season’s Christmas lighting scheme: stringing lights around the city’s hundreds of shuttered storefronts.
At some point, I asked Hadjigeorgiou how the crisis was affecting him personally. Life was getting difficult, he acknowledged. Then, prodded a bit more, he mentioned that he had not been paid by his newspaper, the major left-leaning daily, in four months. Nor had any of his colleagues at the paper. Yet despite the lack of paychecks, few if any employees had left the paper (which has since filed for bankruptcy), for the good reason that there was nowhere else to go.
Which pretty much sums up Greece. Everyone talks incessantly about the economy — about Merkel and Sarkozy and the E.U., about the tightly knit elite that has run Greece for so long and about their neighbors’ troubles and their own — but somehow everyday life rumbles on, in a collective trance, shot through with gallows humor.
By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 percent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed. Last September, organizers of a government-sponsored seminar on emigrating to Australia, an event that drew 42 people a year earlier, were overwhelmed when 12,000 people signed up. Greek bankers told me that people had taken about one-third of their money out of their accounts; many, it seems, were keeping what savings they had under their beds or buried in their backyards. One banker, part of whose job these days is persuading people to keep their money in the bank, said to me, “Who would trust a Greek bank?”
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/the-way-greeks-live-now.html?_r=1